Sunday, April 26, 2009


Hi! Sadly, My XBOX is mostly dead. its not all dead though, so I can occasionally get some playtime in. I'm going to be sending it away shortly, I do have a few reviews saved up for just the proper occasion though. But until I receive my "new" machine, reviews will be few and far between. A few weeks at the most I hope.

In the meantime check out a silverlight version of my upcoming Community Game.

Ye Olde Dice Game
Let me know what you think of it!
The XBOX version has more medieval songs, 4 way local multiplayer, a high score list and improved graphics.
I'm also working on Live multiplayer support for version 2.


(Update: I was just banned on the XNA forums for a week :) Basically for telling it like it is!! Ye Olde Dice Game should be available around may 12-14 hopefully.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Hafiz – one who has memorized the Qur’an

Click To Download the trial

It’s rare for a game to be both fun and educational. Luckily Wordzy is both!

Some might tell you that spending five unsuccessful minutes trying to figure out a word by guessing letters is frustrating. I beg to differ and was quite surprised when Hafiz was revealed to me when my timer ran out. To think my first choice was happy! How pedestrian of me. At the time I was playing on expert difficulty, which makes use of the full Wordzy dictionary. Normal mode uses a limited dictionary, but it doesn’t make the game any less fun! Try both levels, you might just learn a new word or two as well!

This game makes full use of Xbox Live Multiplayer, I don’t know about you but I’m getting excited! I was able to play a game against the developer a few days ago, he beat me. But it was pretty close. There are three game modes to choose from, whether you are playing single player, local multiplayer, or online.

Timed Mode

In this game there is a timer that is continually ticking down from ten thousand. The faster you get the word the more points you score. When you play this mode online, you play against the other person, whoever finishes the word first gets more points. Unfortunately you can’t see what the other person is doing in this mode, so I probably won’t play it that much.

Points Mode (the money mode)

This is my favorite style of play, Each player takes a turn at guessing the word. This is where the online play is really going to thrive. Both players play on the same board so you get to see how your opponent is thinking. Did your opponent get 4 of the 5 letters right? Too bad, your turn now. Take all the points!!

Rounds Mode
This is similar to points mode, but the winner of each round gets one point, best 2 out of 3 kind of thing.

Free Play Mode

It is what it is. For those who value chillin above all else

This game keeps track of all your high scores, as well as the scores of those you play against. Did someone totally destroy you in points mode the other day? Now you will always be reminded of this fact. :)

Scrolling through the alphabet to choose your letters is simple. You use the thumbsticks, up starts at A and down starts at Z. If you press a trigger the scroll speed increases, for those looking for more speed. The game also includes support for the chatpad. Will this be the game that finally tips my mind on the issue of purchasing one of these pads? We shall see.

Buy this game.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Retro One Part 2

Still No Big Boss Battles

But now with multiplayer support! I enjoyed this game, yes it is a little simplistic and “Retro” but that’s part of its charm! I was able to rack up a decent score, and yet it seemed to be meaningless since the game isn’t capable of storing those high scores. Storage is the bane of many an XNA developer but it is definitely needed in a lot of games, especially in a retro-shooter like this one.

Retro One presents you with a number of difficulty options at the main menu, from Easy to Rock Hard. The tag line for Rock Hard simply states: You will not survive! It is indeed tough. Each difficulty choice simply places you on a higher level with a smaller amount of lives.

If you decide to start on Easy, you will probably find the game to be just that. You can rapidly mash the A button or hold it down for a supercharged shot. You will barely be able to see your enemies appear before they are blown to bits! There are a lot of powerups in this game, but sadly all they seem to do is increase the number of little yellow bullets you can shoot at one time. Perhaps a laser or two might have been beneficial?

I was really expecting some type of boss at the end of each level, even if it was just a scaled up version of a regular enemy that could take more damage, but alas. At the end of each level you are presented with some statistics like how many shots fired, and your accuracy. But since there’s no high score list, all those numbers will be lost to the ether each time we end the game.

I thought it was enjoyable for a bit, something to play while you wait for your favorite show to come on? Fans of Retro One Part 1 should enjoy it, and it has made me look forward to Retro One Part 3.
My XBOX is about to DIE!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Game About a Soup Factory


Click to Download the Trial

I'm a sandwich technician by trade, but this game still intrigued me. Especially when the developer stated that "the player will 'guess' the mechanic naturally".

Developed in a modern/minimalist/contemporary style, this game is at its core a single stick shooter, although it could benefit from the addition of another stick. The game begins with a simple white arrow, your in game persona, constrained to a 4x4 black and white grid in the center of the screen. A stylized jalapeno pepper is displayed in the center of the grid.

Suddenly strange objects, things I had never before considered adding to my soup, are coming at me from all directions.

note: probably no need to purchase this to attain good high scores. You will die before 8 minute trial is done! :)

Xeno Arena

Click to Download the Trial


Its dark, my head hurts. I place my fingers where it hurts and it feels like blood. Where am I? A faint scurrying sound is heard in the distance, “Who’s there? Fuck, it’s so dark.” Then I remember the laser sight on Jenny, my rifle. I flick the switch and a small beam of red light cuts through the darkness. Still, I have no idea where I am, or how I got here.

The last thing I remember, having a drink at the dying dwarf, a shithole of a bar on the surface of an even shittier mining colony… Everyone was laughing, then it suddenly got quiet, something hit me in the head obviously, and now here I am.

I swing Jenny around slowly, trying to find anything that would give me a clue. There’s a bunch of metal plates stacked up against a wall. I walk closer, some writing on the side of one, Zera Mining XLC. “Shit” I mutter, I’m in the mine, but why? And how deep? Some of the miners up on top said this pit ran to the core but nobody believed them, they were always drunk. Said it helped em forget the shit they saw down here. Whatever, as long as they didn’t fuck shit up and left when they were told, I let em drink.

That scurrying sound again, but this time its louder. There was some news show on in the bar, something about them shutting down these mines, that’s why everyone laughed, this place was gonna get even worse than it already was.

“Gaava Za”

“What the fuck”

This thing jumps out of the darkness and tears into my leg. I blew it away before I could even get a good look at it. Years spent in the combat prep vats will do that to ya. Just a couple shots and it was a gooey purple mess on the floor. I don’t like things that don’t bleed red. I was on the alert now, and started looking for a way out. I knew their noises now, and blew a couple more away before they had a chance to bite.

Just keep moving, I told myself, there must be a way out. Another tunnel, but it looks like it only goes down. Time to reload.

Xeno Arena

Is this gonna be another bug hunt?

You play the role of an outer space exterminator, it’s a gauntlet clone, if you like your reviews to tell you that sort of thing. Xeno Arena has some interesting features, and some not so interesting features.

I made it to level 7 before the bugs tore my limbs off. I found the controls a bit awkward, using the triggers to cycle weapons and the bumpers to fire led me to wonder if the developers reside in some kind of bizarro universe. At any rate, not having any control configuration in this type of game borders on the unacceptable.

The graphics are nicely done though. I felt like I was in an extraterrestrial mining facility. I was helped along in my search for the exit to the next level by a minimap in the upper left corner. I think the game could stand to lose this feature though, sure you might get lost sometimes, but think of the immersion!

A lot of the screen is actually filled by the spaces between the mining tunnels, these spaces are simply a solid black. Perhaps a space rock texture or two might be inserted? The health and ammo bars are quite good however. Which brings us to the bugs, or rather the bug and its many offspring, each with a slight variation in its coloring pattern, and bodily fluid color. The latter being sprayed across the floor every time you blow one up, nice touch! For an intergalactic bug hunt, this game could definitely use some more bugs. ( note: There could very well be more bugs in this game, but I only found two species, and many varieties.)

As for the gameplay, it has “issues”. The left thumbstick moves your space marine around, so the right stick is for aiming. Unfortunately the right stick moves the camera, as well as rotating the space marine. This unfortunate situation has the possibility of inducing nausea in some people (including myself). But I hope that isn’t what the developers intended. After a bit more time with the game, I tried moving both thumbsticks at the same time. This cut down on the erratic camera a lot, but it was still there.

Your guns also come with a laser sight that traverses the length of the screen. At first it can be a nuisance, but if you can make it to the higher levels, I imagine it becomes a necessity. The bugs scamper out of the shadows so quickly, they usually got to gnaw on me for a bit before I could blast them. Perhaps if the laser’s length were shortened it wouldn’t hinder the immersion factor as much as it does currently.

The developer describes the game’s only goal as “to see how far you can delve into the 'facility' before you succumb to the relentless hoard of the Xenos” That’s a bit disheartening to say the least. Why was I even in an extraterrestrial mining facility in the first place? Am I looking for trapped miners? Or perhaps exotic metals?

In the end, I think this game could use some more development. (But you should still play it!)


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


A Colorful Game of Cat and Mouse
Click to Download the Trial

You had me at the thumbnail :). Maybe I’m just partial to black and white kittycats, but I liked this game. The gameplay is simple, you start off in a neighborhood that is mostly empty lots, with a few scattered houses. As Terwilliger, your job is to catch those yummy mice scurrying around the neighborhood. You can pass freely through the vacant lots, but the houses are obstacles you have to navigate around. I can’t believe anyone wouldn’t want to bring Terwilliger into their home!

If you do catch some mice, new people move into the neighborhood and Terwilliger does get to visit those new homes. Sometimes the owners leave Terwilliger a treat, but sometimes they have a mean doggie that starts to chase Terwilliger around the neighborhood.

Once you catch enough mice, the next house you visit will contain a checkmark. That means Terwilliger can now move along to the next neighborhood. Just move into the next sign in the middle of neighborhood to advance.

Terwilliger can sometimes get powerups and skills like swipe and hide, from the houses he visits as well. These will probably come in handy if you can make it to the upper levels, of which there might be 170! You get a bonus screen and a checkpoint every ten levels, so good luck mouse catchers! I’ve only made it to level 11, but I’ll play it some more I’m sure.

The developers themselves have said they’ve only seen people make it into the 30’s, so here’s your chance to beat them at their own game. And since the devs haven’t’ even beaten their game, who knows what could happen if you do.

The graphics are very cartoonish and fit the gameplay perfectly, I really liked the polka music too. I’m looking forward to see what other situations Terwilliger might get himself into in the future.

Cats Rule and Dogs Drool!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Little Racers

A visually appealing little racer

Click to Download the Trial

This game is fun and fast as well. There are a lot of tracks here, and a lot of cars, each with a number of different variables. Including but not limited to handling, speed, etc.. There are about 6 of these values that you can consider when choosing which car you would like to race around the track with. Unfortunately It is quite hard to tell what each of those values are, or do while playing the game. There might be an instructions screen explaining the cars in more detail that I overlooked however. At any rate if you are a fan I am sure you will figure it out.

For the first time player, or someone who just doesn't pay much attention to that minutia, The game places the cars in supercategories as well. Category A being the fast cars, down to Category F, the slow ones. I spent most of my time in the C category. I also liked the fact that you could change your cars colors!

This game is prone to freezing. Most likely to occur when you are racing alongside your AI brethren. Up to 11 of them if you like.

But if you can get past the freezes, and the fact that racing on those little tracks with 11 other cars can be a bit frenetic, the game can be very relaxing. There is a quick race mode for when you dont want to deal with track or car selelction. I dont think this will get used very often since you might end up with an F car and be putzing around the track all afternoon. A choose your own settings mode, and of course a championship mode.

The Championship mode is where I like to spend most of my time. You get to choose what category of car you want, how many tracks, and how many laps in each track, among other things. Playing against the AI is allright, but this game supports 4-way local multiplayer. So go grab three of your friends and start racing. The developers have stated they are working on Live multiplayer and expect it to be released in a month or two.

I havent yet mastered the controls, and I still find myself slamming into just about every wall on every track, but I like this game. The tips presented while loading tracks can be quite useful too. All it needs is a few oil slicks, some tire spikes, and maybe a roof mounted rocket launcher or two :)

Dont Game Angry!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cave In - Miner Rescue Team

Excellent and difficult puzzle action game.

Click to Download the Trial

Multiple game play modes, including story mode, single player survival, multiplayer survival, and multiplayer battle. The multiplayer is quite fun but is limited to local play only. Battle mode involved both players moving around a caved in mine kicking big colored rocks at each other. If you get hit with a rock you die, simple but fun.

I played through the story mode for about an hour and got midway through level 2. The levels progress in the 1-1, 1-2, style with about ten sublevels per level. I was surprised that each sublevel usually offered a new type of obstacle to navigate past. This made each level new, different, and fun. I did get a little frustrated at some points because on some levels, if you move a rock to a place you aren’t supposed to, your path can become irreversibly blocked, when this happens you have to press start and then restart the level.

The only problem I found with story mode was there wasn’t much of a story. Story mode involved you, the miner making your way through various rooms and freeing any trapped miners in those rooms. It is possible to exit some rooms without freeing the miners. Or you can kick a rock at one, flattening him instead of freeing him. The latter was what I ended up doing most of the time :)

The game does make use of pop up dialog boxes occasionally in the beginning, and to explain any new obstacles, but I would have liked more NPC interaction in story mode. There was only one exit in each of the rooms that I got to, so the story is also quite linear.

I did like the graphics, the lighting is extremely well done. On some of my favorite levels the only light is that from your mining helmet. The rest is a dark maze with unknown dangers around every turn. My only gripe is that after playing a level of multiplayer battle or survival mode, there is a close-up shot of the winning miner. The plainness of the miner’s graphics really stands out at that point. But it’s nothing to not play the game over.

And last but not least, Cave In comes with a built in Level editor, I didn’t use it that much but I’m sure it is everything that a level editor for this type of game should be. The controls on the map editor betray this title as a port from the PC, but there are a number of PC ports making their way onto XBCG these days.

Have fun in the Mines!
Greetings fellow Gamers! Here you will find my take on all things relating to the XBOX Community Games Channel.